Childcare and Dependent Healthcare

Details of the Tentative Agreement:

  • Childcare: A 27% increase to childcare subsidies, increasing from $1,100/quarter to $1350/quarter in Winter 2023; to $1400/quarter in 2024.

  • Dependent Healthcare: first-ever remission of dependent healthcare through UC academic worker contracts, limited to single-parents or single-income households that fall above the free medi-cal coverage threshold. See FAQ here.

  • Paid Leave and Time Off: 8 weeks of fully paid parental leave for birthing and non-birthing parents, 8 weeks of disability or medical related leave, and additional guaranteed paid time off for GSRs. This is up from 6 weeks for birthing parents and 4 weeks for non-birthing parents and all other cases.

Kung Feng, UC Berkeley 

“There’s very few things in my life that I look back at and wonder, did I want to do something differently? But often when I see little kids at the playground I wonder what if we did have a second kid. My kid is Black and Asian and we really thought about what it would mean for him to have a sibling who could identify with him, who could share experiences. But one of the biggest factors why we didn’t have a 2nd kid is money. The cost of rent, the cost of childcare, the cost of providing all the things you want for a kid to thrive — we just couldn’t afford it. It’s hard enough parenting one kid while working as a graduate student researcher at UC. 

I went on strike to help create a University that supports working parents. And today I’m filled with a deep sense of pride in my fellow workers for taking collective action to achieve that. The latest proposal we got is amazing. A raise of almost $7,000 in my annual salary by next spring and over $11,000 by next fall plus expanded childcare benefits will make a big difference for our family. His healthcare will be fully covered. That kind of extra money means my kid can go to the basketball camp he would really love. It means he gets to do science camp. I can’t even measure what it means to me to see my kid happy. And he already knows that it was union power that made that possible.”

Sonja Bumann, UC Berkeley

I am an expecting first-time mom and chemistry graduate student who worries about the prospect of raising a child with extremely low wages and pitiful student-parent resources.

However, thanks to the collective bargaining strength of our union, we were able to make unprecedented moves at the table that give me and other student parents the encouragement and significant material gains to better balance our roles as academics and caregivers. I will have 8 weeks of paid maternity leave to bond with my child. Childcare subsidies will increase by 27%. But most notably, my wages will increase by 36% over the duration of the contract. I cannot overstate how transformative this amount of money is; it gives me the reassurance that I can create wonderful experiences with my growing child while still pursuing my own scientific interests and learning.

I’m so proud of our fight as union members for a contract that not only improves the lives of student workers but also strengthens the retention of women in STEM.”

Zoe Silverman, UC Berkeley 

Over the course of the strike, I have been awed to see my peers and colleagues mobilizing in solidarity with student parents like me. Though parenting in academia brings a host of challenges, I am honored to work alongside student parents every day whose insights about true community care, ethical obligation, and embodied politics inform my research and enliven my teaching practice.

According to UCOP, graduate student parents make up a tiny proportion (around 12%) of the graduate student population across the university, but carry substantially higher debt with less family support than their peers. This proposal offers material gains that will help many student parents shoulder the burdens of childcare and dependent health insurance costs while laying the groundwork for future advocacy and coalition-building. I am a doctoral student living in university housing and paying for university-managed preschool; I send over $4,500 back to the university every month. I know that this proposal is not enough to end rent, childcare, and healthcare burdens for all. However, the wage increases, childcare subsidies, paid leave, and access to dependent health insurance will move the needle in ways that matter right now for many student families, including mine.

I am grateful that student parents have been a priority in these negotiations and I look forward to bringing the energy generated by the strike into future advocacy for UC families.”

Curtis Rumrill, UC Berkeley

“For the entire time I’ve been a grad student worker, my wages have not kept up with the rising rent in UC housing and the rising costs of UC childcare for my two kids. Then we went on strike. A mass participation strike with enormous picket lines on every campus. 

The UC’s new proposal is a reflection of the power of our strike — and for me and my coworkers it will be transformative. If this offer is ratified, the income of GSIs in the Music department would grow from $34,000 to $46,270 a year within the next 2.5 years. 

My yearly child care benefit would grow from $3,300 to $4,450 per year. This will go a long way towards making it possible for me to stay in academia and support my family. And for the first time, parent workers will have access to dependent healthcare through UC!

I’m so moved by the way my co-workers have stood up for student parents like me. We are only strong when we take mass action together. Thank you to everyone who stood together for this and refused to cross the picket line. When we organize, we win!”